2013-14 RTC Class Schedule: Syracuse Orange

Posted by BHayes on August 28th, 2013

Bennet Hayes is an RTC columnist. He can be reached @HoopsTraveler. Periodically throughout the preseason, RTC will take an in-depth look at the schedules of some of the more prominent teams in college basketball.

In many ways, the 2013-14 season looks to be business as usual at Syracuse. The roster is deep and talented, expectations are sky-high, and Jim Boeheim is manning the sidelines for the Orange. But you can rest assured that there will have never been a Syracuse basketball season like this one. The day is finally here – the Orange, charter members of the Big East conference, are now officially ACC constituents. Heading south with them are former Big East brethren Pittsburgh and Notre Dame. The addition of these three formidable basketball programs makes the ACC, at least on paper, the toughest hoops conference in the land.

Jim Boeheim And CJ Fair Are Looking Forward To Syracuse's First Year In The ACC

Jim Boeheim And C.J. Fair Are Looking Forward To Syracuse’s First Year In the ACC

  • Team Outlook: Duke will undoubtedly be eager to remind the newbies that the ACC is its conference to rule, but Syracuse should be as poised as any foe to upend the Blue Devils. The Orange frontcourt is loaded, with junior and all-Big East second teamer C.J. Fair (14.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG) leading the charge. Surrounding Fair up front is a trio of high-upside sophomores. Rakeem Christmas (5.1 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 1.8 BPG), DaJuan Coleman (4.8 PPG, 4.0 RPG), and Jerami Grant (3.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG) are all expected to see an uptick in production in year two, but of the three, it is Grant who has the best chance to quickly transform himself from role player into star. Junior Baye Keita (8.6 block percentage) will also see minutes up front, while Duke transfer Michael Gbinije and freshman B.J. Johnson will battle to find time in this crowded frontcourt. Not surprisingly, given the remarkable depth up front, the question marks for Jim Boeheim and the Orange all appear in the backcourt. Gone are Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche, leaving Trevor Cooney as the sole backcourt returnee who saw any time a year ago. The sophomore is an engaged and capable defender, but will be expected to shoot the ball better from the outside this time around (he was just 27% from three as a freshman). He may also be tasked with handling some backup point guard duties, as there is no obvious reserve for presumptive starter Tyler Ennis. Ennis, a freshman from Ontario, California, may be the most important player on the Orange roster. With said deficit of ball-handlers, the consensus top-25 recruit will have the rock in his hands a whole lot, and what he does with it will go a long ways towards determining the fate of this Syracuse season. With all the talent around him he does not need to be nearly as dynamic as MCW was a year ago, but with few other options around, he most certainly has to play a solid floor game for the Orange to begin to tap their full potential. Read the rest of this entry »
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RTC Conference Primers: #1 – Big East Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the RTC correspondent for the Big East. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • The Realignment Circus Continues: The latest blow to the Big East came just recently as West Virginia was accepted into the Big 12. That leaves the Big East with 13 basketball schools remaining and a handful of others (football schools) desperately trying to flee the sinking ship. Commissioner John Marinatto has said he is committed to holding Syracuse, Pittsburgh and West Virginia to the 27-month notice provision in the conference’s bylaws but one has to wonder if a financial settlement will be worked out in order to expedite the transition and move the conference into rebuilding mode. It’s going to be quite awkward if these three schools remain in the league until 2014. All of the current Big East members should eventually find a stable home in one form or another, but the days of Big East basketball as we know it will soon come to an end. Enjoy the 2011-12 season because it just might be the last year of this remarkable 16-team behemoth.
  • How Many Bids This Year?: After sending a record 11 teams to the NCAA Tournament last year, can the Big East reach that mark again? That seems unlikely but you never know how things will truly play out. I’d say there are ten contenders for NCAA bids and to make 11 you would need all of those teams plus one of the three New York City-area schools to have a wildly successful year and snatch a bid. The Big East is quite possibly the best conference in the land yet again but 11 NCAA teams is far-fetched. Eight or nine bids this season would seem to be much more realistic.
  • Can Connecticut Repeat?: The technical answer is yes but it will be extremely tough to do. There’s a reason only two teams have gone back-to-back in the last 20 years. College basketball is as deep as ever in terms of talent and quality teams, plus there’s someone missing from last year’s Connecticut team. Kemba Walker is now in the NBA and, despite Jim Calhoun’s impressive recruiting haul, there is a major leadership void to be filled. This team is stocked with talent but Walker was a one-of-a-kind leader who took complete control in Maui and parlayed that into a way of life for the rest of the season. Jeremy Lamb figures to take control but remember how young this group is. They’ll get better as the season progresses and may even win the Big East but when the chips are down in the NCAA Tournament, they won’t be able to call on Kemba and that’s why I feel they will not repeat.

Calhoun Won't Have His Mr. Everything Around This Season

  • Cautious Optimism at Georgetown, Villanova and West Virginia: These traditional powers lose a lot of talent and figure to be lodged in the middle of the conference. All three programs return key cogs but the departures of Austin Freeman, Chris Wright, Corey Fisher, Corey Stokes, Antonio Pena, Casey Mitchell, John Flowers and Joe Mazzulla leave more questions than answers. These teams all need someone to step up and become a deep shooting threat while maintaining a low post presence. Guards win in college basketball but you also have to be able to rebound and score inside occasionally. Hollis Thompson, Mouphtaou Yarou and Deniz Kilicli must become better all-around post men if their respective teams hope to make the NCAA Tournament. At 6’7”, 205 lbs., Thompson isn’t one to bang with the big guys but he’s going to have to score in the paint at times. Each team has a nice recruiting class coming in, but it’s up to the returning players to make the ultimate difference.
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RTC Conference Primers: #2 – Big Ten Conference

Posted by Brian Goodman on November 14th, 2011

John Templon of Big Apple Buckets is an RTC contributor. You can find him on Twitter at @nybuckets.

Reader’s Take I

 

Top Storylines

  • Mid-Majors Newcomers Will Make Major Impact – Two graduate student transfers from mid-major schools are going to make an instant impact in the Big Ten. Brandon Wood could start in Michigan State’s backcourt after scoring 16.7 points per game last season for Valparaiso. Sam Maniscalco averaged 9.7 points per game for Bradley last season and might end up scoring even more for Illinois. Both players give their teams veteran pieces at positions that would’ve otherwise been dominated by youth.
  • Healthy Living – Robbie Hummel returns for Purdue and has the opportunity to make a big impact for the Boilermakers now that his former classmates have graduated. While Matt Painter couldn’t get Hummel on the court with JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, he does get the added bonus of having an All-America caliber forward to help shepherd this team into the postseason. Injuries also delivered a blow to Indiana, as Maurice Creek is going to miss the entire 2011-12 season. That’s after missing all but 18 games last season, and it’s a big blow to the Hoosiers’ NCAA hopes.
  • A New Head Coach In University Park – After leading Penn State to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, and falling to in-state rival Temple, Ed DeChellis saw the writing on the wall and left PSU for a more stable job at Navy. His replacement is former Boston University head coach Pat Chambers, who has a big rebuilding job on his hands after graduation of star guard Talor Battle.

Predicted Order of Finish

  1. Ohio State (16-2) 
  2. Wisconsin (12-6)
  3. Michigan (12-6)
  4. Michigan State (10-8)
  5. Purdue (10-8)
  6. Illinois (9-9)
  7. Minnesota (9-9)
  8. Northwestern (8-10)
  9. Indiana (8-10)
  10. Iowa (6-12)
  11. Nebraska (4-14)
  12. Penn State (3-15)

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20 Questions: Can the Big East Approach Its Record of 11 NCAA Bids Again This Season?

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2011

Brian Otskey is the Big East correspondent for RTC and a regular contributor. You can find him on Twitter @botskey.

Question:  Can the Big East Approach Its Record of 11 NCAA Bids Again This Season?

The Big East can certainly “approach” its record of 11 NCAA Tournament teams but I feel pretty confident in saying the conference will not equal that number this season. There is too much uncertainty at schools such as Georgetown, Notre Dame and West Virginia to proclaim that all three will again make the field of 68. For the Big East to equal 11, those three teams plus one of Rutgers, Seton Hall and St. John’s (teams in the 11-13th place range) would have to wildly exceed the expectations of most writers and analysts to make the field. This assumes, of course, that DePaul, Providence and South Florida have no shot whatsoever of going dancing this March.

The Big East Will Need Help From One or Both of These Guys to Get to 11...

When you break it down, Connecticut, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Syracuse are considered preseason NCAA locks with Cincinnati, Marquette and Villanova not far behind. That makes seven teams and you have to figure at least one (probably two) of Georgetown, Notre Dame and West Virginia will earn bids as well. That makes eight or nine teams with an outside shot at ten in a best case scenario. As we’ve seen in the six year existence of the 16-team Big East, the league eats itself alive, especially in the middle. Ten wins in this conference is usually enough to garner an invitation but 9-9 and 8-10 records, often seen around tenth place, make a team’s situation dependent on what goes on in other leagues around the country.

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20 Questions: Is Indiana Slowly Getting Over the Hump?

Posted by rtmsf on November 10th, 2011

I. Renko is an RTC columnist.

Question: Is Indiana Slowly Getting Over The Hump?

Indiana has long been considered a college basketball “blueblood,” one of the top six programs in the sport’s history.  But over the past 15 years, its hold on that distinction has become increasingly tenuous.  Since 1994, the Hoosiers have advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament just once, during a surprising run as a #5 seed to the 2002 national championship game.  That one shining moment aside, the last decade and a half has seen one disappointment after another :

  • The faded glory of the latter Bobby Knight years, which, by the time of his controversial departure in 2000, were distinguished mostly by NCAA Tournament flameouts and an exodus of key transfers.
  • The tumultuous tenure of Mike Davis, who, despite some early signs of turning things around, proved to be in over his head for a job with the pressure and expectations that Indiana brought.
  • The initial promise of the Kelvin Sampson era which soon imploded in a recruiting scandal that was a humiliating blow for a program that had long prided itself on doing things the right way.

Is Tom Crean Two Years Away From Competing at a High Level?

Which brings us to the Tom Crean era.  It is difficult to overstate the depths to which the Sampson saga plunged the Indiana program.  Crean inherited zero scholarship players in his first year at the helm.  As a result, Indiana fans, though no stranger to high expectations, have given Crean a long leash as he has worked on a multi-year rebuilding project.

So far, Crean has done just about everything right off the court.  He has embraced Indiana’s traditions and fan base, making them the centerpiece of his recruiting pitches.  He has been a vocal and outgoing representative of the men’s basketball program and university.  He and his family have immersed themselves in the campus community.  He has built and rejuvenated in-state recruiting networks to take advantage of Indiana’s tremendous talent base.  He has recruited high-character kids who represent the school well.  For all these reasons, Crean remains popular with the fan base.

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20 Questions: Who Are the Best Candidates to Become Another Butler, George Mason or VCU?

Posted by rtmsf on November 9th, 2011

Andrew Murawa is the Mountain West and Pac-12 Conference correspondent and an occasional contributor.

Question: Who are the best candidates to be another Butler, George Mason or VCU?

In the five seasons since George Mason’s huge breakthrough win on the part of mid-majors everywhere, the Colonials have seen their feat matched by three other teams, with Butler even outdoing GMU by advancing to consecutive national championship games and even giving Duke everything possible in 2010, coming just a fraction of an inch away from claiming an improbable national title. But Butler and Virginia Commonwealth, who faced each other in one of last year’s national semifinals, are likely to take steps back this year. While Brad Stevens has rightly earned the reputation as a coach who gets the most out of his team, the fact that the Bulldogs are now missing Shelvin Mack and Matt Howard, in addition to Gordon Hayward (who left two years ago) means that this vintage of Butler will be starting over. Sure, Ronald Nored returns for his senior season, while guys like Khyle Marshall, Andrew Smith and Chrishawn Hopkins are ready for their turns in the spotlight, but in the exceedingly unlikely event that Butler makes its third national title run, Stevens should be up for immediate sainthood, because that would qualify as a miracle. Likewise in Richmond, the Rams will be replacing four key players from last year’s run. While Bradford Burgess returns for his senior year ready to play a bigger role for VCU, there likely isn’t enough talent surrounding him to repeat last season’s remarkable exploits.

Which Mid-Major is Next in Line for a Run to the Final Four?

So, if Butler and VCU are out of the question, which team is possible? First, we should define the question a bit more clearly. The way I look at it, we’re not simply looking for a team outside of the Big Six conferences to fill in here, because schools like Memphis, UNLV and Louisville (when it was in Conference USA) have made Final Fours prior to GMU, and none of those were all that surprising. Likewise, if a team like Xavier or Memphis, for instance, made it to the Final Four this year, it wouldn’t exactly be a shock. Sure, it may raise an eyebrow here and there, but for all the money those schools throw at basketball and all the recruiting success those programs have, they shouldn’t be considered true mid-major programs. For the purpose of this question, we’ll use the Mid-Majority’s redline, which takes the Big Six conferences, along with the Mountain West, Conference USA, Xavier and Gonzaga and names them all major programs.

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RTC Conference Primers: #3 – Southeastern Conference

Posted by rtmsf on November 9th, 2011

Gerald Smith of HalftimeAdjustment.com is the RTC correspondent for the SEC. He also contributes to the RTC SEC Microsite. You can find him on twitter @fakegimel.

Reader’s Take I

The SEC/Big East Invitational features all 12 SEC teams in action.

 

Top Storylines

  • Everything In Its Right Place: After several years of coaching changes and lackluster out-of-conference performance, the SEC is finally ready to jump back into the national discussion of powerful basketball conferences. The movement is powered by young coaches (Alabama’s Anthony Grant), older but new-to-the-SEC coaches (LSU’s Trent Green, Georgia’s Mark Fox) and the SEC coaching stalwarts (Vanderbilt’s Kevin Stallings, Florida’s Billy Donovan, Mississippi State’s Rick Stansbury, Mississippi’s Andy Kennedy, Kentucky’s Johhn Calipari). Thanks to the solidifying of the coaching guard, the conference is flush with top talent: 13 McDonald’s All-Americans will be playing this season across six different teams. The national basketball pollsters have noticed and have rewarded the SEC’s upward mobility with four teams in the preseason Top 25 polls; the first time the conference has had four or more teams in a preseason poll since the 2006-07 season (incidentally, also the last time an SEC school won it all).
  • Sit Down. Stand Up. (Snakes & Ladders): Kentucky head coach John Calipari brings arguably the greatest recruiting class in SEC history to join an already-talented roster. The hype for this season was already building in Lexington even before the 2010-11 season began when Calipari netted McDonald’s All-Americans Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer; when Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb elected to return for their sophomore seasons to rejoin senior Darius Miller, expectations were raised to national championship status. It remains to be seen if Calipari’s freshmen will wilt against more experienced teams that will play them tough physically and mentally. One thing is for sure: This Kentucky team will score in downpours not seen in Lexington since the 1995-96 National Championship team.

Will Sidney Finall Reach His Full Potential This Year?

  • My Iron Lung: After an infamous season that included fighting his own teammate, Mississippi State’s Renardo Sidney realizes that the college basketball public is watching him for more screw-ups. He spent this summer working out in Houston with former NBA player/coach John Lucas in order to improve his conditioning and attitude. Sidney’s lackluster performance in MSU’s first game Monday (nine points and three rebounds in just 23 minutes of play) won’t easily squelch his critics. Unless he can finally meet the expectations of his talent level, the Bulldogs will be wheezing all season long.
  • Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box: This season the Southeastern Conference removed the divisional formatting for its basketball conference standings. The teams with the top four overall conference records regardless of schedule strength will receive a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament. The SEC East and SEC West divisional championships now exist only in the past. And perhaps the future: With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M in the 2012-13 season, going back to the two basketball division format may be necessary.

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20 Questions: Why Can’t Gonzaga Make Another Serious Run in the NCAA Tournament?

Posted by nvr1983 on November 9th, 2011

Question: Why Can’t Gonzaga Make Another Serious Run in the NCAA Tournament?

It seems like a strange question to ask. Every year ESPN hypes up Gonzaga as a Cinderella team, but a strange thing happened between 1999 and 2011–the Bulldogs failed to advance past the Sweet Sixteen. While the school has had its share of stars in the intervening 12 seasons (Adam Morrison being the most notable) much of its NCAA Tournament reputation is built on the work of Casey Cavalry from the 1999 NCAA Tournament. It is a fact that lost is lost on many casual college basketball fans and college basketball analysts, who at best choose to ignore it to help build a compelling narrative. Much like Duke has been made out to be the symbol of all things right in college basketball by certain media outlets there has been a tendency by many in the media to paint Gonzaga as the perennial Cinderella that always makes a deep run in the NCAA Tournament. That may make for a nice story line and the video of Cavalry flying in to tip in the game-winner against Florida makes for a nice clip (as well as creating the name for the best Gonzaga blog out there), but recently they have been surpassed by Butler as the mid-major du jour. The question is what happened to Gonzaga and what can it do to get back to the Elite Eight and beyond?

Few Has Racked Up Regular Season Accolades, But Not In The Postseason Yet

To start off, we should point out that Gonzaga has been far from a total failure during the Mark Few era, which also happens to coincide with the stretch where Gonzaga has been unable to get beyond the Sweet Sixteen, a fact that is probably not lost on Gonzaga fans. During his 12 seasons as head coach at Gonzaga, Few has compiled a 315-83 record (79.1%, which is 6th all-time in Division I and 2nd among active coaches trailing just Roy Williams) while winning the West Coast Conference regular season title 11 consecutive years and making the NCAA Tournament every season he has been a head coach. However, that success has not translated to the NCAA Tournament where after two consecutive trips to the Sweet Sixteen in his first two years as head coach Few has only been able to guide the Bulldogs out of the opening weekend two out of ten seasons including three years where they lost in the opening round.

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20 Questions: Is This Roy Williams’ Best North Carolina Team Yet?

Posted by KCarpenter on November 8th, 2011

Kellen Carpenter is an ACC microsite staffer and an RTC columnist.  

Question: Is This Roy Williams’ Best North Carolina Team Yet?

North Carolina enters the season as the near-unanimous choice for the best team in the country. They are the clear Vegas favorite to win the national championship. This team has the potential to be very, very good, and the raw talent assembled in Chapel Hill is impressive.  Let’s take a quick inventory: The team is led by Harrison Barnes, a first team All-America caliber player, and perhaps the most skilled Tar Heel of the Roy Williams era. He’s surrounded by three other All-America (though probably not first team) level players in steady seven-footer Tyler Zeller, pass-first floor general Kendall Marshall, and the lanky defensive terror that is John Henson. The fifth starter is the speedy and defensive minded Dexter Strickland, who some claim is one of the top one hundred players in America. Coming off the bench are three five-star recruits: Reggie Bullock, a big guard with a sweet-shooting stroke who missed most of last year with an injury, and two freshmen. James McAdoo is more Ed Davis than Marvin Williams, but regardless, he seems locked into the role of the big NBA prospect coming off the bench. P.J. Hairston is, like Bullock, a big guard with a penchant for draining threes.

It's All Smiles at Carolina This Season

That’s a pretty good team, and we aren’t even counting two skilled, big freshmen forwards in Desmond Hubert and Jackson Simmons, the senior Swiss Army knife that is Justin Watts, freshman back-up point guard Stilman White, the injured Leslie McDonald, who was last year’s best three-point shooter, and the relentless majesty of Blue Steel, the motley crew of walk-ons. While these players are pretty good, for now let’s just focus on the top eight guys in the rotation since more than likely they will be playing most of the minutes.  Let’s take a step back and look at these eight players.

This 2011-12 squad likely has more All-Americans and NBA draft picks than either of the 2005 or 2009 championship UNC teams. This was the main evidence that Gary Parrish used to suggest that this team will be Williams’ best North Carolina team. It’s an interesting point, mainly because it speaks to the pure potential of this group. There are a lot of guys on this team who have the potential to be truly great. I use the word “potential” here deliberately, though. Outside of Tyler Zeller, the only time this team has really proven its mettle was for the last half of last season. Extrapolating the team’s performance based on its relatively small sample size is risky, and perhaps overly optimistic. Still, for the sake of argument, let’s go with it.

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The 2011-12 ProZach Awards

Posted by zhayes9 on November 8th, 2011

Zach Hayes is an editor, contributor and bracketologist for Rush the Court. Follow him on Twitter @zhayes9.

Every August, ESPN college football guru Kirk Herbstreit releases his Herbie awards, a grab bag of honors and predictions about the upcoming season covering everything from quickest running back to hardest-hitting linebacker. The Herbies are so popular they even resulted in their own half-hour show hosted by Herbstreit and Erin Andrews. With no equivalent in the hoops world, I volunteered to step up to the plate. Some of these awards are Herbie knock-offs, some are 100% original and all are intended to be fun. Whether they look ridiculous by March…well, the jury is out. Here are this year’s Pro-Zach awards, passing out happy pills since 2011:

Washington's Terrence Ross is ready to make the leap

All-Next Chapter

  • Team Irreverence: Players Who Don’t Get Enough Respect – GOLD: Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), SILVER: Kent Bazemore (Old Dominion), BRONZE: Doug McDermott (Creighton)
  • Shhh, Don’t Tell: Best Kept Secrets – GOLD: C.J. McCollum (Lehigh), SILVER: Alex Young (IUPUI), BRONZE: Dominique Morrison (Oral Roberts)
  • Forwarding Address: Top Transfers – GOLD: Mike Rosario (Florida), SILVER: Royce White (Iowa State), BRONZE: Brandon Wood (Michigan State)
  • Fresh Approach: Top True Freshmen – GOLD: Anthony Davis (Kentucky), SILVER: Austin Rivers (Duke), BRONZE: Andre Drummond (Connecticut)
  • Off and Running: Ready To Take It To The Next Level – GOLD: Terrence Ross (Washington), SILVER: Keith Appling (Michigan State), BRONZE: Michael Snaer (Florida State)

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20 Questions: Can a Team of Freshmen Win a National Championship?

Posted by Brian Joyce on November 8th, 2011

Brian Joyce is an SEC microsite staffer and occasional contributor.

Question: Can a Team of Freshmen Win a National Championship?

It’s an easy question, so I have a simple answer. Yes, of course, a team of mostly one-and-done players can win the national title. That’s the beauty of college basketball, and more specifically the “lose and you’re out” nature of March Madness. Any team can win it all, as VCU and Butler proved this past year by advancing to the Final Four.

The question has been answered already on a number of occasions. Several teams with a nucleus of freshmen players have taken their teams to Final Fours and even come awfully close to winning a National Championship. The infamous Fab Five of the 1991-92  Michigan Wolverines were arguably the greatest recruiting class ever assembled. Despite their youth at a time when juniors and seniors dominated the college basketball landscape, the Fab Five overpowered opponents all the way to the national title game. It was there that Michigan met one of the best college basketball teams ever in the Duke Blue Devils, and simply didn’t have the focus and ability to play their level of basketball.

The Fab Five Were Arguably the Best Freshman Class Ever (AP)

A similar scenario occurred years later as the 2006-07 Ohio State Buckeyes put together a tremendous freshmen class led by Greg Oden and Mike Conley, Jr., that took the Buckeyes all the way to the final game. Ohio State ran into a team on a mission for its second consecutive title, as the young Buckeyes couldn’t handle Joakim Noah, Al Horford and the rest of the Florida Gators.

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Everybody Into the Pool: Celebrating the Return of College Basketball

Posted by rtmsf on November 7th, 2011

Exactly 31 long weeks ago, on a Monday night in a city more sprawling than sprightly, two teams stepped onto an elevated court in front of 80,000 people in a football stadium and tipped off a game more memorable for its unsightliness than its beauty. Connecticut and Butler may not have won over many new fans with their combined 26.1% shooting on that warm spring evening, but as a certain blockbuster game that took place in Tuscaloosa over the weekend shows, teams who are better at stopping people from scoring rather than scoring themselves have a peculiar tendency to make the game ugly.

It Wasn't Pretty, But Counts Just the Same...

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, though, and even if the score had ended at 2-0, the sport’s 73d national champion was crowned that evening in Houston. A short 21 weeks from now, we’ll do it again. From this Monday night to that Monday night and 147 days in between, we’ll submit ourselves to the altar of the college basketball gods, genuflecting before a slate of over 5,000 games involving 345 Division I teams, each with a specific hope/delusion of grandeur of a shot to play on the next elevated court… in the next football stadium… at the next Final Four.

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